When Jesus talks about the “Way” to where He is going—the way to the Father—He does so in a casual manner. He is not focused on describing the way to His disciples. They already know the way. That is what He has been teaching them the whole time. Thomas’ confusion here seems to stem from his focus on the destination. Where is Jesus going? Isn’t He always going to be there with them?
That is similar to the problem a lot of people have with this passage today. When we talk about Jesus being the Way (and the Truth and the Life) we tend to focus on the destination rather than the journey. Or, if not just the destination, we are caught up in the fact that Jesus is the means. But that does not negate the fact that knowing there is a way and following that way are two separate things. Too many people today are cavorting down the wide way leading to destruction, confident that they are alright because they know that the narrow road exists. You have to actually walk along the right path to get where it leads.
Jesus is God. He came to the world to save it. But He is also the most perfect revelation of the Father. And He is the most perfect example and teacher of how those who belong to God are to live. Jesus left us clear instructions on how to live in a fallen world as we await His return. Jesus being the Way is not so much about an acknowledgement of an idea expressed in a prayer. It is about a radically changed life.
And that ties into the whole “in my name” teaching that shows up here for the first of three times in this last minute teaching from Jesus. When we live in Jesus—in the way that He lined out for us to follow—we are living according to His nature. “In His name” as it were. And, accomplishing a life as He would have us live involves us asking for God’s help along the way. If we live as God wants and want what God wants, then the things we ask Him for will be given to us.
Praying “in Jesus name” is not an incantation that we add on to the end of our shopping lists so that God has to act. Praying in Jesus name is praying as Jesus prayed. It is not about our wishes, plans, and needs; it is all about God’s will, plans and the Kingdom being expressed.